Holophone H3-D(2)

Dear Reader,Do me a huge favor, wontcha? Don’t ignore this review simply because you think gear optimized for surround recording applications doesn’t apply to you. And don’t go running away because the picture of the H3-D reminds you of the robotic ostriches that torment you, night by night, in your dreams. Trust me, you’ll want to hear about this.Love,Garret


The H3-D shell encases six microphones, with the goal being to create a realistic “you-are-there” image for listeners. While some vendors have used a human skull-shaped housing for this application, Holophone has chosen an ellipsoid design for the H3-D’s shell. Beyond simply protecting the mic elements, the shell provides a boundary layer that acoustically divides incoming sound into sectors for each mic (otherwise the mics would have an omnidirectional response, which wouldn’t be very useful).

Normally, the H3-D rests in a yoke that attaches to a mic stand so the head can swivel up or down a bit, and you can lock in the chosen angle via two knobs. The yoke can also be rotated around the front of the head so that the unit can be ceiling mounted. Removing the yoke allows various other mounting options.


At first, I didn’t know exactly what source to try the H3-D on, so I tried it on every session I had for a few weeks. First up, I used the H3-D to record a gang of backing vocalists for the new Hand Drawn Mountains single. Using only the left, center, and right mics gave a great mix of direct sound from the singers as well as some natural room ambience. The group sounded large, yet close—not like they were tracked at the bottom of a well. Definitely a win.

Next, I used the H3-D on a variety of live instruments. Rostrum/Warner artist Scott Simons needed to track my 105-year old Kohler and Campbell upright for his new single; the K&C has a large frame, seasoned maple body, and a rich, almost haunting tone. I placed the H3-D directly over Scott’s head, using left, right, and center channels to form a wide left-to-right presentation of what the artist heard from the instrument while tracking. The H3-D captured the piano’s every nuance—from the decay of the low strings to the foot pedal noise, the recording really showed the player’s perspective. The mixing engineer for the project was clearly impressed, as he called me a week later from L.A. and demanded to know which mic was used, saying he had never heard a more realistic-sounding piano track in his entire career. He was amazed when we told him we had used an H3-D.

On my next session, I found the H3-D to be a winner for drums. Charles Constantino came into the studio with a large drum set that looked like it was jacked from Peter Criss’ basement and, using the center mic in conjunction with the left and the right, we picked up the entire kit with just the H3-D, needing only a kick mic to achieve the full instrument sound.

Finally, I took the H3-D to a violin concerto, featuring soloist Laura Motchalov, at the University of Pittsburgh’s Bellefield Hall to check out the full 5.1 mode. Not only did the H3-D provide a firm “you-are-there” image of the hall, but on playback it also reaffirmed a valuable life lesson: Don’t forget the LFE mic! Hearing the extended low end and being able to augment the mix with it was wonderful. No more reaching for an EQ; the right information was all there in the first place.


My only complaint is that the H3-D’s breakout cord is a little short; placing the mic on a high boom or at any serious distance from your pres will necessitate additional cabling. Also note that the H3-D needs solid 48V phantom power for each mic.

The H3-D is one of the sweetest pieces you can add to your mic locker and goes way beyond 5.1 applications. From the stunning results using an L-C-R configuration, to the added clarity of the low channel, to the intrinsic phase coherency, this mic provides high quality sonic performance and serious flexibility. Across many sources and in various environments, the tracks I’ve cut using the H3-D have truly been some of the finest I’ve captured in my career.

PRODUCT TYPE: Six-channel (L, R, C, LFE, LS, RS) discrete microphone designed to automatically deliver 5.1 channels.
TARGET MARKET: Designed to bring surround to the MI, project studio and education markets, but works incredibly well in non-5.1, general music recording applications.
STRENGTHS: High benefit-to-cost ratio. Great sound. Can be used as single point of capture tool for instruments such as drums and piano, or multiple performers.
LIMITATIONS: Breakout cord too short. Needs multiple pres to power multiple channels of mics.
LIST PRICE: $1,695
CONTACT: www.holophone.com